by Jenny Yerrick Martin on February 21, 2011
“You know you’re kind of crazy,” Amy, the moderator, says into the mic about midway through the evening. Deadpan, confidentially, Can I tell you a secret?
“Oh, I know,” Diana, a tan, 50ish-looking woman, replies lightly, accompanied by a peel of laughter from the audience. She knows you’d have to be really crazy not to know you’re kind of crazy if you are her.
Diana is one of three Los Angeles-area entrepreneurs who has been invited to a panel called, “Master Among the Madness: Becoming The Best Among the Competitive Rest” hosted by SMARTY, an area women’s group which consists of several hundred successful entrepreneurs, struggling entrepreneurs, and aspiring entrepreneurs, a diverse group of smart, creative, and engaged individuals. And this panel is rocking their worlds. The energy is palpable.
Moderator Amy is Smarty founder Amy Swift Crosby, an insightful and funny woman with a gift for establishing chemistry and connection in her live interviews. The other two panelists are Caroline Styne, the owner of Lucques, AOC, and Tavern, three very successful LA restaurants, and Lulu deKwiatkowski, the owner of, LuluDK a high-end textiles and wallpaper design company.
And Diana is Diana Nyad, the co-founder of Brava Body, part on-line support group, part exercise DVD sales outlet, whose mission is to empower women age 50 and over to be their passionate, fit, fantastic best. She and her partner want to reach and inspire all women in their demographic. Scratch that, they want to reach and inspire ALL WOMEN period. But that’s not what’s getting Diana the crazy label.
Diana is a distance swimmer who set a world record in 1979 for swimming from Bimini to Florida. In the ocean. A hundred freaking miles. She is planning to swim from Cuba to Florida this summer. Another hundred freaking miles. Oh, and she’s 61, not 50ish. She is on this panel as an entrepreneur, but when the topic is “Master Among the Madness,” the conversation returns often not only to her world record-holding athletic career but to her summer plans. Which is what gets her called crazy, of course. It isn’t the first time, won’t be the last, and she is fine with that.
But you can’t help but think that all entrepreneurs have in them a little of what makes Diana tick. Take the panel, for example. Caroline opened a restaurant in the shark tank of Los Angeles at a time when Spago and a couple of other spots were the only hot dining destinations. (Who knew if the market could support another one?) Lulu’s industry was very traditional and old-school when she started her company and her taste and products are innovative, fun, and colorful.
And Amy, the moderator, started a business based on empowering, educating, and inspiring entrepreneurs during the ugly economic downturn the country is just emerging from. Who’s kind of crazy now, huh? The room is full of these people- bloggers, store and salon owners, lawyers and publicists and CPAs who run their own practices, graphic designers, personal trainers… you name it.
We all have a vision and drive to see it through. My own businesses are small in the execution (swimming stroke-by-stroke, if you will), but big in the vision. With my writing and career consulting business, I want to give people the language and wherewithal to go out and get jobs they go to joyfully every day. With my entertainment career blog, YourIndustryInsider.com, I want to profile successful people in every position in the film, television, and music branches of the industry and teach those aspiring to those positions how to get there.
Our businesses don’t have the same life-or-death drama as swimming across the ocean for a hundred hours straight at age almost-62 years old. And they don’t involve the same exposure as having CNN.com following your journey with an on-screen shot the whole time. But we can all relate to Diana and the test she is putting herself to.
Our challenges may not literally be sharks and dehydration and hallucinations and hypothermia, like Diana’s are on her summer swim, but we have competitors and downturns and our own doubts and fears to contend with. Some of us even have demanding day jobs and/or needy children. And yet we keep swimming…
Diana has made no bones about the fact that she is attempting this monumental feat not just to prove to herself and then world that she can do it, but to show the world that the value and capabilities of women as they age are not diminished and that they can still set and reach big (BIG!) goals in spite of what others might think.
And so we all have something to prove. To ourselves, to the world. In that room, we all delight in hearing from the veteran entrepreneurs on the panel who have triumphed and continue to make strides in their businesses. But crazy Diana and her crazy ocean swim really set our hearts on fire. If she is daring to do that, what limits does that leave for any of us? No limits at all.
To find out more about Diana’s upcoming swim, visit her website here.
About Jenny Yerrick Martin:
Jenny Yerrick Martin is a veteran hiring executive, expert resume, bio, and web content writer through MomentumAdvantage.com and her blog, MoveYouForward.com, and the creator of entertainment career site, YourIndustryInsider.com.